How much do SAT scores matter in the application process?

It depends on the school, but we estimate that scores are about 30%, grades and a challenging course load are 60%, and extra-curricular activities and essays are 10%.

How do the colleges interpret the scores?

Most public schools (including the UC system) will simply take the top overall score, regardless of the breakdown of the three sections (reading, math, and writing). Most private schools will mix and match scores; they will take the better reading score from the March SAT, for example, and combine it with the better math and writing scores from the May SAT.

Should I take the test multiple times?

Only Stanford and a few Ivy League colleges require students to submit all of their testing results; the others allow you to submit only your best scores, so students have an incentive to take the test several times. Most students burn out after taking the SAT or ACT three times, so we are not big proponents of taking these tests at an early age. About 75% of students score the highest when they retake the SAT or ACT in the fall of the senior year.

Should I take the SAT or ACT?

Most students score about the same on both tests. We caution parents not to make premature judgments about which test is better for their student; have your student take a timed practice test and make your determination based on concrete results rather than speculation. We offer free proctored practice tests to our clients.
Most AJ students prepare for the SAT and then only need three additional lessons to be fully prepared for the ACT.

What is a good SAT score?

There are three important benchmarks we use to judge a good score. Does the new score represent a significant improvement over the previous score? This is the question we address to judge the success of the tutoring process. Does the score represent the highest score the student is likely to earn? This is the question we address when thinking about retake strategies. Is the score in or above the range for the colleges to which the student is applying? This is ultimately the most important benchmark. How does a student’s score compares to his older sibling’s score, or to the scores of his peers? This benchmark should be discarded. We keep your scores absolutely private and would never compare siblings or classmates.

Why don’t my student’s scores match his or her grades?

If scores matched grades, there would be no purpose in having scores; colleges would simply judge students based on their grades.
Students’ scores are lower than their grades when their course load is not rigorous or they simply struggle with test-taking skills like time management, guessing strategy, and question interpretation. We take tremendous pride in helping students who are not natural test-takers conquer the SAT and ACT.

How does AJ Tutoring differ from other tutoring groups?

We offer the most efficient and effective way to improve your student’s score; most students improve about 150 points in only eight or nine sessions. We are the only group with a proven track record of improving students’ scores in such a short period of time. We are also a team of professional 1-on-1 tutors. Other groups hire high-scoring tutors whose main focus in life is elsewhere. We are committed to teaching full time. We do very little advertising. All our work comes from the great word of mouth of our clients. AJ Tutoring is the outgrowth of the private practices of Aaron Andrikopoulos and Joe Niederman. Our main objective is to provide the best education to each of our students.

Where does the tutoring take place?

We meet in your home, at our offices in Saratoga, San Mateo, San Carlos, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Los Gatos, Woodside, Los Altos, or San Jose, or at school during your student’s free period, whichever you prefer. We tutor students seven days a week until 10 pm, including Saturdays and Sundays.

How do you determine which AJ team member is the best fit for a student?

After gathering input from parents and students, we discuss various tutors to find the right match based on demeanor and personality.

Where do I register for the ACT exam?

Register for the ACT at www.act.org

How many times can/should a student take the SAT?

Most students should take the SAT/ACT two or three times. See testing schedule »

Do you offer customized tutoring programs?

Yes! We never lock our clients into fixed programs, and all of our billing is hourly. Although we usually meet with students for nine 90-minute sessions and cover all three subjects, we are happy to do fewer or more sessions, or to focus exclusively on one aspect of the test.

Do you tutor for SAT Subject (SAT II) Tests?

Yes! We tutor for almost all of the SAT Subject Tests. Our most spectacular score improvements are usually in the Math 2 SAT Subject Test, but we also do an excellent job helping students with literature, physics, chemistry, biology, and US history.

How do I sign up to take a practice test at AJ Tutoring?

Please email our practice test coordinator at:


You are welcome to bring your friends who are prospective AJ Tutoring clients.

Let's discuss your student's academic tutoring, test prep, or college counseling needs!

Our test prep, academic tutoring, and college admissions counseling professionals are here to help you navigate the test taking maze, share our experience with your local school, and inspire your student.

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